Human Cases of West Nile Virus in Halton Region

Human Cases of West Nile Virus in Halton Region

Release Date: Aug 3, 2012

The Halton Region Health Department has been notified by the Public Health Ontario - Toronto Laboratory of Halton’s first probable human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) illness for 2012: a female in her fifties from Burlington and a female in her thirties from Milton.

“These first human cases of West Nile virus illness underscore the need to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region. “This message is particularly important for older adults because they are at higher risk for more serious West Nile virus illness.”

In Halton, the months of highest risk for human WNV illness are August and September, though when temperatures are abnormally high, the high risk period can start even earlier. Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever. Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

  • Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.
  • Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.
  • Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.
  • Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

A map showing the locations of standing water sites that have had larvicide applied is available on the Health Department’s website at www.halton.ca/wnv.

To report standing water or for more information about West Nile virus, please dial 311 or call Halton Region at 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-4HALTON (1-866-442-5866), TTY 905-827-9833 or e-mail wnv@halton.ca.

The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 500,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; emergency medical services; waste management; public health; Ontario Works (formerly social assistance); children’s and seniors’ services; social/non-profit housing; heritage programs; emergency management and business development. For more information, dial 311 or visit Halton Region’s website at www.halton.ca.

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Media Contact:

Jeff Crowder
Strategic Communications
Halton Region
905-825-6000, x7968
jeff.crowder@halton.ca